LONDON – The hunter has become the hunted.
Michael Moore, the celebrated left-wing film-maker, has become the unwilling subject of a new documentary that raises damaging questions about the credibility of his work.
The director and star of successful documentaries such as "Roger & Me," "Bowling for Columbine" and "Fahrenheit 9/11," Moore has repeatedly been accused by his right-wing enemies of distorting or manipulating the material in his films. On his Web site he dismisses his critics as “wacko attackos”.
Yet the latest assault on Moore’s film-making techniques has come from an unexpected quarter. In "Manufacturing Dissent," a documentary to be shown for the first time at a Texas film festival on Saturday, a pair of left-wing Canadian film-makers take Moore to task for what they describe as a disturbing pattern of fact-fudging and misrepresentation.
“When we started this project we hoped to have done a documentary that celebrated Michael Moore. We were admirers and fans,” said Debbie Melnyk, who made the film with her husband, Rick Caine. “Then we found out certain facts about his documentaries that we hadn’t known before. We ended up very disappointed and disillusioned.”
"Manufacturing Dissent" includes a long catalogue of alleged exaggerations or distortions in several of Moore’s films. In "Bowling for Columbine," a scathing indictment of gun violence in America, Moore visited Toronto to show parts of the city that were supposedly so free of crime everyone left their front doors unlocked.
“In the film, Michael makes it look as though 100 percent of the doors were unlocked, but his local producer told us it was really only 40 percent,” said Caine.
Caine and Melnyk said they had hoped to interview Moore about his views on how much editing was acceptable before a factual documentary turned into misleading propaganda.
“We had met him at a premiere of the Columbine film in Toronto, and he said, ‘Oh yes, talk to my people and they’ll set something up’,” said Caine. “We then called his people and they said he’s not doing any more interviews in Toronto. We had his e-mail, we sent a letter to his lawyers, we had his phone number in New York. But each time he said no.”